Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
Now Available on Smashwords for Kindle and other ebook readers!

Friday, July 28, 2006


Truckin’ new issue is out – check out some work by some of my favorite writers and my new story as well! Pauly is an internet mogul.

1. Memories in a Box by Tenzin McGrupp The emotional weight of all those photographs combined would equal forty thousand elephants. No person is strong enough to walk through life with such a cumbersome burden on their shoulders... More

The Returning by Mella The room seemed larger at night. The corners receded into black, the walls pressed back by shadows, everything coated in a thin veil of blue-gray moonlight. It spilled in through the sheer curtain, flooding the wooden floor. The air was thick, and it smelled like us; sex and sleep... More

Grits by Falstaff when you're drunk, fearless and hungry, you'll go places where no Yankee has ever gone before, the Birmingham Waffle House at 3AM. And trust me, in Birmingham, being from North Carolina marks me as a Yankee... More

JetBlue Judy Greer by Derek McGrupp As I waited at the gate to board my return flight to New York City, I noticed this girl who looked very familiar to me. I couldn't figure out who she was. It was killing me. Then it hit me. She was an actress... More

Flying Shotgun by Matt Robertson I begin screaming and this seems to agitate the bird who in turn begins flapping harder, slapping the side of my face, and screeching louder. I am swerving all over the road at this point... More

Rain by Sean A. Donahue I heard the fire trucks roll as the lightning flashed and as the thunder rolled across the plains of West Texas, I found myself loving listening to the rain again... More

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

I missed the DADI and didn't get shot in the process

So I didn’t play the DADI last night. Not that I have anything against rebuys, I just didn’t play. I also didn’t play the Mansion poker freeroll set up for folks on that were playing the $1 rebuy when it crashed last week. You wanna talk about retarded? Think $1 rebuy tourney.

But anyway, I’m at work around mid-afternoon working on my third revision of a church lighting design, when I get a text message inviting me to a cash game in a rental house about 45 minutes from my house. I’d played there once before and was pretty sure they wanted me to come back, since I dropped $300 in less than 2 hours on my last visit. Queens just no good sometimes.

So I got permission from Suzy, which was no mean feat given the fact that Tuesday she got her walking cast on. Yeppers, my wife is now sporting a hot pink plaster cast for the next 3-6 weeks to correct her plantar fasciaitis. You listening, Mean Gene? Get that shit taken care of or it will come back to bite you in the ass. Or arch, more precisely. But anyway.

So I cruise in and there’s a pretty brand new cast of characters. The only one I recognized when I landed was Danny, the guy who runs the game. He’s a damn nice guy, looks like he bench-presses VW Bugs as a warm-up to his real workout. There were several young guys, including one with a shitload of tattoos and some brief fungus sprouting from his chin and lips. He might want to consider shaving until puberty really sets in, but that’s his call I suppose. An old guy named Willie and a young kid who really didn’t look old enough to drive after dark were playing heads-up for $100 a match when I got there, just killing time until everybody arrived. Kid looked like he had some game, and Willie looked like he had some gamble, so they were pretty evenly matched. They split two games and then we had enough to start a game.

This is a pretty good game, if a touch expensive. It’s standard $1/2 no limit, with 10% rake, no cap. They didn’t always take the full rake they could, I don’t think I ever saw the dealer take more than $5 for a rake, so I had no complaints. They provide drinks and food, and a pretty good dealer. Courtney is certainly better than the Luxor dealers I had to contend with my last day in Vegas. She played as well as dealt, since the game was a little short, but made it known to all the players when they came in what was going on. The only downside to that is that she’s good, so I tried to avoid getting in big pots with her.

It’s a pretty loose game, $12 is pretty much a standard raise. There’s no max buy-in, but no one bought in for more than $200. A couple of poor guys were the table ATMs, rebuying $50 at a time, sitting for 3-4 hands, busting, walking for a hand and then rebuying. Nothing really eventful for me for most of the night. KK no good, folded on the river to a tight player who I was sure was ahead of my when we checked around on the turn. He showed me that he filled up on the turn when another player paid him off.

Dropped QQ in a hand where Courtney had KK, the tattooed kid had JJ, Jason (one of the other guys that runs the game) had 88 and the flop came down A J 8 rainbow. Courtney and I ran away, Tattoo had folded to Courtney’s $50 re-raise preflop, and Jason showed his 88 when we rabbit-hunted. He woulda made quads on the river. I wasn’t sticking around that long. 88 v. JJ v. QQ v. KK. Live poker is so rigged.

Getting close to time to check out I was down about $50 and looked down at AA. Figured it was close to time to end it anyway, so I re-raised Danny’s $12 preflop to $25. Flop comes down K Q rag rainbow. I check, he bets out $50. I push my remaining $116 into the pot, making him pretty much pot committed for the $66 call. He doesn’t improve so my AA holds up against his KJs. Pretty much the perfect flop and flop action for my hand, so I was happy camper. Cashed out up $125 for the night and drove home, knowing I was gonna be draggin’ ass all day today. I was right. Ass is definitely draggin’. But with a little bonus whoring and that $125, the bankroll is back to pre-Vegas levels. I broke even with my play out there, but there were some withdrawals from bankroll to cover real life expenses, so I had a little dip coming home.

Now I need to assess my bankroll goals for the year and what I want out of poker. Right now what I want is a nice set of real clay chips for my home game, so that may be the next thing. I would like to get the ‘roll up to $3K so I could feel a little more comfortable playing NL100 and 3/6 Limit, and I’m only about $500 from there, so maybe those are the two things I’ll shoot for in the short term. Long term I want to build up enough to afford to go back to Vegas in December and party with my friends, so that’ll be the longer term goal, and I figure I need about another $1500 on top of gambooooling money for that. A little writing, a little real poker play and I should be there no problem.

The iTunes Gift card has been successfully spent

Because enquiring minds probably don’t really give a shit, here’s the list of what I bought with my $50 in free iTunes boogie. Thanks for all the suggestions, I actually listened to most of you.

Metallica – Enter Sandman
Metallica – Nothing Else Matters
Metallica – Turn the Page
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Tuesday’s Gone
Lynyrd Skynryd – Ballad of Curtis Loew
The Raconteurs – Hands
The Raconteurs – Store Bought Bones
The Raconteurs – Steady as She Goes
The Allman Brothers Band - Jessica (live)
The Allman Brothers Band - Melissa
The Widow – The Mars Volta
The Chemical Brothers – Block Rockin’ Beats
The Chemical Brothers – Setting Sun
The Crystal Method – Keep Hope Alive
The Crystal Method – Trip Like I Do
The Crystal Method – Busy Child
Oakenfold – Starry Eyed Surprise
Moby – Honey
Moby – Porcelain
Moby – Bodyrock
Moby – South Side
Moby – Why Does my Heart Feel so Bad?
Moby – Natural Blues
Elvis – A Little Less Conversation (JXL Remix)
Sean Paul – Temperature (I have no idea what he is saying)
Sublime – What I got
Phil Collins – Against all Odds (shut up)
Panic! At the Disco – I write Sins not Tragedies
Collective Soul - Shine (Acoustic)
All-American Rejects – Dirty Little Secret
All-America Rejects – Move Along
Sarah McLachlan – Angel (acoustic)
Cyndi Lauper – All Through the Night (Acoustic w/Shaggy) (again, shut up)
Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time (Acoustic w/Sarah McLachlan)
Cyndi Lauper – True Colors (acoustic)
Jeff Beck & Rod Stewart – People Get Ready
Gram Parsons – Return of the Grievous Angel
Gram Parsons - $1,000 Wedding
Enter the Haggis – No More Stones
Lit – My Own Worst Enemy
Jamie Cullum – Twenty Zero Five Live (Album)
Enter the Haggis – Lancaster Gate
Enter the Haggis – Long Way Home
The Fray – Over my Head
John Williams – Theme from Superman
The Fray – How to Save a Life (live)

Fairly eclectic I think, with a little bit of candy-ass pop thrown in. If you’ve never listened to Enter the Haggis, definitely check out Lancaster Gate, it’s an awesome Celtic rocker. Some people think 7:30 AM is too early for bagpipes and kick drums. If you’re one of them, this might not be the boogie for you.

My geek card is revoked, I think

I had to Google Jonathan Frakes after watching Season One of Roswell. Couldn’t for the life of me figure out who the fuck he was.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Really, Otis, crayons?

I just watched the video of Otis eating 2 Keno crayons for $400. I'm taking suggestions for bizarro foodstuffs and monetary amounts to carry down to G-Vegas next time I go. If Otis will eat crayons for $400, imagine what TeamScottSmith would do for $50? Cause them Smith boys is crazy.

I played a little poker last night. A very little. Like 30 minutes for +$20. I'll take it. It beats the shit out of the -$300 I was for the previous two nights. I took a shot at a NL200 table on Royal Vegas, and that didn't go well. It's not that the play was one whit better than the NL25 tables on Stars, just that, like Alan Rickman said in the really bad Robin Hood flick "It's dull, you twit, it'll hurt more!" Having a guy draw out with inappropriate odds to river his 4-flush hurts more when it costs you $200 than when it costs you $25.

Speaking of hurting more - sites that have mandatory bonuses that you don't ask for and must clear before making any withdrawals can absolutely suck me. I stuck $200 in Royal Vegas to clear a PokerSavvy Bonus (I do still like those guys, Matt's taken pretty good care of me, but I'm almost out of bonuses that I can clear since I have accounts with most rooms) and they gave me a $100 instant bonus. Catch is that I have to play 1,000 hands to clear the bonus. OK, no big deal, I'll do my PokerSavvy bonus and then leave, abandoning my other $100. Nope. Not so f'n much. They've reversed my cashouts twice now, telling me I have to play their 1,000 hands before I can cash anything out. So you can pretty well believe that once I've played my other 500 hands that they can suck me and I'll yank my cash so fast it'll make their head spin. I won't be returning to Royal Vegas, to put it mildly.

The only consolation is I'm winning just a little bit on there, so it's not unprofitable to play out my requirements.

I used up my iTunes gift card last night, thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions. I'll put together a list a bit later of what I actually bought with it, so you can see which of your suggestions I took and which ones I ignored. BadBlood must prepare for disappointment, but just to prove I'm not a total musical pussy, I did buy a bunch of Metallica, since their catalog is finally available on iTunes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Another Charity Thing - Help us Fight Cancer

After you've gone to the For Peyton website and bid on the Ebay stuff, go to this site and help my office raise money for cancer and cancer research.

For the record, my fat ass is NOT riding in this 24-hour bike ride thing. I'm giving money. That's how I roll. On the non-exercising tip. Yo.

EDIT - Donkeypuncher asks how much toget me on a bike - on video. A grand. You guys come up with $1,000 and I promise to ride at least one 3-mile lap and get video of the ri-donk-ulously hot, sweaty, unattractive experience for all of you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Suggestions wanted

So I got a $50 iTunes gift certificate from Pokersavvy, because Matt that runs the joint is a stand-up guy and looks out for me. But I have most of the boogie that I want, so I'm looking for suggestions.

I just got a $25 iTunes gift card last week and used it to buy the new Darrell Scott album (highly recommended), the first Old Crow Medicine Show album (also smoking) and some singles from Miles Davis and My Morning Jacket after reading Tony's blog last week.

So what's out there that's cool? I like lots of bluegrass, Americana, singer-songwriter stuff, old hair bands, old punk, old-school hip hop, basically anything. So hit me with some songs or albums that you think are must-haves, and I'll let you know in a bit what I get with my $50 worth of boogie.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

No, really, I mean it.

Upon consideration of the current state of affairs in our country, and the dismal outlook for presidential candidates from both parties in the upcoming 2008 presidential election, and upon reading the requirements for serving as President of the United States of America, I have decided to enter the race to be the Republican Party’s candidate for the next President of the United States.

No really, I’m running for President. I’ve got less than a year before things really start to kick off in the campaign front, so I’m currently soliciting for a campaign manager. Preferably someone with a clue about political campaigns. I’m sorely lacking in that department.

I have decided to run for several reasons. Firstly I have no faith in anyone who has announced their intentions to run for President so far, nor do I have any faith in the current leadership of either party to run our country any more effectively than it has been run in the past five years.  Secondly, I will be 35 by November of 2008, I am a native citizen of the US and it’s my right to do so. Thirdly, I think it would be nice if the leader of the country was someone who actually lived like a normal person for a change. Finally, unlike most of our previous presidents, it would actually be a significant increase in salary for me.

I have chosen the Republican Party for very specific reasons. I have always been a registered Independent voter, leaving myself the freedom to vote in any primary I choose, usually to vote against a candidate that  I felt could be particularly harmful to my city’s government were he or she to be elected. I believe in the tenets of the real Republican Party, not the fascist neo-conservatives that have hijacked the party in recent years. I am in favor of small government and individual freedoms. I am in favor of fiscal responsibility. I am in favor of individual liberty without the fear of the government sticking their nose in the business of grownups who aren’t hurting anyone.

Here are some hot-button issues that will make large numbers of people unhappy with me.

  1. I am not going to have an abortion. My opinions stop there. Since I personally will not have one, I will not legislate them.

  2. I am married, and I am not gay. I do however feel that all people should suffer equally, so I am in support of gay marriage. Why should straight people be the only ones miserable?

  3. I am in favor of gun control. Handguns really only exist to kill people, so if normal people own things that only exist to kill people, then things like trigger locks should be mandatory so kids can’t kill people.

  4. I support our troops in Iraq. I also think they should not have been sent to Iraq in the first place and would like to pursue bringing them home as quickly as possible.

  5. I think the current system of taxation is stupid and needs to be fixed. This will have to be done by people smarter than me, but I’m willing to hire them to do it.

Basically, my belief is that all common sense has left our government in favor of partisan politics and elitist corporate agendas. I would instill some common sense back into our government, along with a healthy sense of humor. After all, can’t you just see me referring to the French Prime Minister as a cheese-eating surrender monkey at a G8 summit? My platform consists of this statement – Vote for me, because it’s no stupider than anyone else elected in recent history!

Only because Tripjax said so...

And I'm a lemming.

Do some good, you degenerate!

That Bobby Bracelet is quite the guy. He's gone and set up a whole bunch of
new items to be auctioned. It won't stop there, either. Look for additions
like 2 tickets to Howard and Suzie Lederer's WSOP party, a signed cowboy hat
by Kenna James, Matt Savage running your home game, Greg Raymer signed a fossil
for some lucky bidder, and even more!

Oh yeah, there will be a poker table auctioned off thanks to Bluff Magazine.
It will be signed by every pro that Gavin, Spaceman, and Bluff staff can muster.
It'll also be signed by the brand spanking new WSOP Main Event Champion. Then
of course, Bobby Bracelet will be auctioning that off to one lucky bastard.
Better bring your checkbook for that one though, cause it'll go for over 10k.

Here is a rundown of the stuff you will soon find on Ebay and ready for your
bids. And by "soon" I mean later today, July 19th.

Two tickets to the Full Tilt Poker Gala Event at the WSOP! There are two
tickets available, each one is allowed to bring a guest. This is up already
and will end in 5 days because the event is July 26th. It's at Pure nightclub
in Caesar's. Check it out, make a bid, meet and marry a celebrity.


One lucky sob and a guest have a chance to attend Howard and Suzie Lederer's
(and Steve Zolotow's) 4th Annual WSOB and Karaoke Championship. Thursday July
27th, from 6pm - ??? at a restaurant off the strip. Many of the top pros will
be there, and you never know, possibly a celebrity or two. I can't think of much
that would be more entertaining than seeing somebody like Phil Hellmuth belting
out Endless love.

Gavin Smith, poker professional and all around great guy, has the tickets and
we will get the winning bidder in touch with him to ensure the tickets are in
your hand in time.

(Note: this does not mean to imply that Phil Hellmuth will be there.)
(Also: WSOB apparently stands for World Series of Beer. NICE!)

Steve Zolotow
has donated a night out at one of his favorite hangouts, a place
called Nice Guy Eddie's in New York. Dinner for two, drinks, and whatever sort
of poker conversation you'd like to have. Ask questions, listen to stories, get
some tips and pointers, or just shoot the breeze. He's a great guy that truly
enjoys conversations on a variety of topics.

Robert Mizrachi has offered a 2 Hour Lesson. This will be by phone unless by
some chance you can work out a time and place that works for him. With tourneys
and travel, chances are you'll have to settle for a phone lesson, but you never
know. Doesn't hurt to ask.

Annie Duke sent two signed copies of her book along with 3 DVD's. They were split
up into two packages. The first is the hardcover edition with the advanced secrets
DVD, while the other is the paperback version with two DVD's, one for beginners and
one for women.

Mike Krzyzewski signed a Duke hat. Bobby Bracelet tells me it has taken every
ounce of his will not to stomp it into oblivion before setting it on fire. If
you're a fan, it's a great Nike fitted hat. If you aren't, buy it for charity
and do exactly as Bobby would do in hopes it will work like voodoo on Duke's
chances next season.

There is another Card Player package like last time, only this time we have the
ability to also add a one year subscription to Card Player Magazine.

There is another Phil Hellmuth DVD package similar to last time, though it will
also be joined by a one year subscription to Card Player Magazine.

Go To For Peyton and keep in eye on these items. Should be up today.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No really, blogs are gay. And so's your beer.

“Oh that’s good.

“I’m pretty sure I can’t admit that around any of my male friends. Well, probably Speaker, DonkeyPuncher and Iakaris, but not around any of my macho male friends.”

I’m not sure which was more sad, that I actually had that short conversation with myself, or with the cat, whichever you decide is less lame, or that I’m sitting here drinking a Bacardi Silver Peach.

In my defense it’s the only beer-esque thing in the house. In reality, it’s the gayest beer-esque thing since Zima with a shot of Chambord.

Don’t ask, and it wasn’t my idea.

Someone is having issues...

Bad Request

Your browser sent a request that this server could not understand.
Size of a request header field exceeds server limit.

That’s what I’ve gotten trying to log in to for the past two days. Now I can’t even get mediocre official coverage of the WSOP.

Thank goodness some of the best writers in the business are still working their asses off out there. Otherwise how would we know what Harrah’s has f’d up today?


And now a word from our sponsors...

Some of you may remember my write-up of the PokerTek dealerless poker table a while back. Well, the nice folks at PokerPro decided to join up as a sponsor for this little slice of the internet, and I agreed to post their press releases from time to time. Well, now the folks at PokerTek have broken into the LA casino market, getting themselves set up with a nice little PokerPro room at the Hollywood Park Casino, so we’ll see how that goes for them.

If you recall, my general take on the tables was that they have a nice niche in the market, but wouldn’t ever totally replace dealers. They’ll be a great addition to card rooms that want to run single table satellites, or small tournaments, and after my experience at the MGM, maybe they should be created with the ability to deal mixed games, since so few dealers seem to know how to deal Razz, Stud 8 or even Omaha 8 nowadays.

For a few more well-thought-out opinions, as well as some less thought out ones, here's a current thread on 2+2.


Charlotte, N.C.June 22, 2006: PokerTek, Inc. (Nasdaq – PTEK) today announced that
Hollywood Park Casino, one of the three largest card clubs in
California, has agreed to
install an initial six PokerPro™ tables for a 90 day trial period.

After announcing in April that Hollywood Park Casino agreed to be the first location in
California to install PokerPro™ tables, this contract provides for PokerTek to initially
install six tables under a 90 day trial period, with
Hollywood Park having the ability to
install additional tables at its discretion. The agreement also provides that the 90 day trial
period will automatically be followed by twelve month renewals unless terminated by
either party in accordance with the terms of the agreement.

Lou White, Chief Executive Officer of PokerTek stated, “We are excited about this initial
installation and look forward to a long and mutually rewarding relationship.
Park Casino’s savvy management team and our technology will be a revolutionary union
to introduce PokerPro™ into the California Card Club market.”

In an earlier statement, Leo Chu, President and Owner of Hollywood Park Casino, said,
“The impact that this technology will have on our industry is enormous. In addition to
being more efficient, PokerPro™ allows us the ability to attract a new segment of poker
players to our casino.”

California hosts the largest concentration of poker tables in the world with approximately
1,300 poker tables operating in over 100 large card clubs, small card clubs and Native
American casinos.

About PokerTek, Inc.
PokerTek, Inc., headquartered in
Charlotte, NC, develops and markets the PokerPro™
system, an electronic poker table that provides a fully automated poker room
environment. The PokerPro™ system was developed to increase casino revenue by
increasing hands per hour, while reducing labor costs within poker rooms. PokerTek’s
Intellectual Property currently consists of twenty-six patents pending covering various
aspects of the PokerPro™ system. For more information please visit the company’s
website at or contact Becca Bernstein at 704.849.0860 x119.

About The Hollywood Park Casino

For more information and directions to the casino, please visit the company’s website at

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tilting at Blondemills

She was born to tilt. I couldn’t tell it right away, but it only took a couple of hands for me to figure it out. She was hot, blonde, educated, twenty-something and had a poker-pro boyfriend who wore his sunglasses at the $1/2 NL table in the Imperial Palace at 1AM. I couldn’t get a read off of him, he was so stoic I figured he was asleep. But she was a different story. She pegged me for the donkey the minute I sat down. Maybe it was my disheveled hair (I prefer the playful, spiky look), maybe it was the move from the $2/4 game. Maybe it was the fact that I announce myself as the biggest donkey in the room the second I sat down, and informed the table that “the dead money has landed.”

Or maybe, just maybe, she figured me for a donkey because she watched me play the Hammer on Twitch for a $25 re-raise to push him off his top pair. But whatever.  She raised me preflop every big blind, and I folded a lot of them. The one time I re-raised, she caught two pair with her AT against my AK. No big deal, I was making up for anything she took by pillaging the drunken cowboy in the 10s. She was in the 2s picking on me, never noticing that there was far easier prey at the other end of the table.

Then it started. I picked up 89 soooted UTG, and made it 8 to go. I knew she’d come along with anything marginal, and I was right. Flop of 67x gave me two overs and an open-ender, so I called her $15 flop bet, chasing. Turn was my 8, giving me top pair, and again I called her $15. I was pretty much gonna call her down for the info, but I also thought I might be good right there. When the ten came on the turn, I knew it was going to get a touch volatile, and when she called my $25 raise to $40, I knew she was beat but wanted to see. I showed my straight, and she threw her A7o face up into the center of the table, muttering about chasing.

“If it makes you feel any better, I was ahead from the turn.” Never mentioning the fact that with my draw, I was probably a favorite to win from the flop. No point in confusing her, she was already pissed.

About six hands later she hasn’t bothered to reload and makes it $25 to go from middle position. I look down at AQ diamonds, and figure that all her money is going into the middle at some point, so why not make it happen now.

“How much do you have behind?”


“How much do you have left?” A fairly simple question, I thought. Not requiring a translator. But obviously I was wrong.

“ Whatever, I’ll call.”

I look at the dealer, shrug, count out enough chips to put her all in, and she throws the rest of her chips in the middle of the table, followed by the powerhouse of ATo. I turn up my AQ, neither of us improve, and she sulks off to the bar for a drink, glaring daggers at me the whole way. I look over at the Piltdown boyfriend, shrug, and continue to stack her chips. Boyfriend, I think, snored a little.

The next day I repeat the process with a blonde that was far nicer about getting stacked twice by a hillbilly card rack, but did say that she wasn’t playing any more hands with me. I responded by telling her that was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me at a poker table. She followed this declaration by playing every single hand I was in for the next hour, recapturing about ¼ of her chips in the process. She didn’t have a statue for a boyfriend, and didn’t sulk. I liked her better.

Monday, July 17, 2006


There will be no real trip reports forthcoming. I was there for a week, saw my best friends, played cards, and have stories. But there will be no real trip report. Everybody else has already posted theirs are they’re better than mine. The extensive stay on the back end of the blogger party made this an odd trip for me, and getting sicker than fuck my last three days in Vegas didn’t help, so I’ll spend some time this week writing up my impressions of moments and fun things that happened, rather than any kind of chronological trip report.


I took no pictures, counting on Special K to handle that for me. Soooo, without further ado, let’s take a look at a story we’ll call “My god woman, would you please fold when I bluff!” or “Why Mrs. Columbo hates me” or “Always sit to the left of Ryan and Heather in the mixed game.”

I sat down again in the mixed game at the MGM. This proved to be less than profitable last time around, and judging by my table, wasn’t going to get any better this time. With Byron, Heather, Ryan, Shelly, Columbo and Mrs. Columbo, Statikkling and I’m sure some-damn-body else at the table that can play more than two of the 5 games we had in rotation, I felt well and truly destined to give away my buy-in, then let someone else have the seat.

H – Hold Em – I have a small clue how to play this one, and thus did myself no damage. I’m pretty sure I broke out the first live straddle in the session, garnering a grimace from Mrs. Columbo. This did not bode well, since for the next 24 hours, she would be in almost every pot I was in.

O – Omaha 8 – There are few words to describe the level of suck I have at this game, so I won’t. I played one hand in the first orbit of O. I got quartered. I hate that game.

R – Razz – I actually think this may be my best game, thanks in large part to a little tutelage I picked up from F-Train via the chatbox one night. I didn’t scoop every pot in the first orbit Razz, but I dragged the first three in a row, including the third one, in which Mrs. Columbo managed to tilt me a little by not believing I was as strong as I was representing (obviously I wasn’t, or I wouldn’t have cared). I’ve got an Ace for my door card, with an Ace-5 down, and I complete. There are no other aces up. I catch another wheel card on fourth street and lead out. I get two callers. Byron leaves on fifth street when I catch another card under an 8, but Mrs. C sticks around. I’m starting to sweat a little now, because I’m drawing to the 8, and that’s just not gold. But I figure I can run her out if I keep hammering on the expensive streets, and the 5 on sixth street only looks bad to me, since it gives me two pair. No such luck with the folding. Catching a 3 on seventh makes my 8 low good, and Mrs. C turns over her 8-6 to lose to my 8-5, and I’m golden but shaken.

She would not go away under any circumstances. This trend continues throughout the night as she and I trade chips back and forth, with her coming out significantly ahead of me thanks to her no-bluff, just play good cards strategy. This holds her in good stead against my play any BS cards and try to bully people strategy.

S – Stud hi – I suck. I fold a lot. I think I dragged one pot.
E – Stud 8 – I suck more, but get some great info from Ryan and Heather on playing the low and backing into the high, which leads to me getting half of a couple of pots. Good to play with people who understand the games and are actually willing to help out.

I sit for a couple of hours, thinking all the while that I should be toking Heather rather than the dealers, since she was explaining to them how to deal the games and read the boards, but I had a great time playing and getting lessons on safe play from Ryan and Heather and lessons on aggression from Brian. Good times.

Good times continue the next day when we get Caesar’s to spread a Crazy Pineapple game for us. This is my game, baby! I love me some Pineapple, so when Pablo suggests it, I fairly fly to the list. Then wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. By the time the game opens, Spaceman is on super-list tilt, and the game is gonna be crazy. There were actually a few times that the big blind didn’t get straddled, but none of them belonged to Mrs. Columbo, who had the ill fortune to sit to my immediate right, guaranteeing that no big blind would go unstraddled. It only took about three orbits for her to utter those sweetest words a woman can say at the poker table “I hate you.” It took a little longer, maybe four orbits, for someone to break a pair of sevens in order to play the hammer, but it did indeed happen. It was a crazy game, and I finished up a whopping $10, but thanks to the lack of service from Caesar’s I never had to worry about tipping any cocktail waitresses (but I think I did promise Columbo my firstborn child as a thanks for bringing me a burger).

All references to Mrs. Columbo must be taken with tongue firmly in cheek, because she is in fact a fine card player and a beautiful woman (who never wants to sit to my immediate right) and under no circumstances should any of the BS I’ve been slinging be construed as anything other than the poking of fun I usually reserve for donkeys like Penner (.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Cowboy poker at the Imperial Palace

So I’d been tracking this cowboy all around the IP poker room for the last hour or so. No because I’m gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and not because of any particular interest in his well-being, but because he’d just taken down the 7PM tourney at the IP, was drunk off his redneck ass, and looking for help with carrying around that extra thousand bucks or so in his pocket. I was determined to help out any way I could.

I was sitting in a donkey 2-4 Limit game (like there’s any other) just racking up my comp points until the tourney broke and they could open a new 1-2 NL table as cowboy walked to the bar for his fourteenth little girly drink with the umbrella. He had a red t-shirt on, a carefully pre-distressed cowboy hat and his pants hanging halfway down his ass. This didn’t appear to be an outgrowth of some gangsta lifestyle, more likely he just had lost all external feeling.

After about $40 of 2-4, my new table opened up, and there sat Cowboy, sorta doing his own little whirling dervish chair dance, the one where you’re far too drunk to sit still so you kinda spin on the axis of your ass in the chair? Yeah, you know the move. He bought in for the table max of $100, and continually had to be told when to bet, how much to bet, and sometimes would just randomly throw chips into the pot when it was his turn. He held his cards so far up that the player in the 1s (Cowboy was in the 10s) told the dealer that he could see his cards. Dealer’s reply “It doesn’t matter to this hand, man.” And Cowboy, as drunk as he was, had the classic betting pattern tell. $10 preflop meant an Ace with a 9 or better kicker. $10 on the flop meant he missed and wanted to buy it. $20 on the turn meant he hit, but $10 meant he missed and could be pushed away. If he bet the river, he was pretty strong. If he checked the river, he was 50/50 to fold or call. I usually pushed him out on the turn or folded on the flop, so I didn’t see many rivers.

Except this one. I’m sitting UTG with 5-7 of hearts, and Cowboy is three behind me. I know that he’s going to see every flop, so I toss out two reds ($10) to play with only him. The rest of the table had been pretty much staying out of each other’s way if he was in the hand, so I got Cowboy and one caller. Perfect for my silly draw.

Flop comes 6h, blank, 4h, giving me the open-ended straight flush draw, and I check it. Cowboy bets his $10 and I call. Other player goes away. Turn is a blank, and I check/call Cowboy’s $10, so now I know he missed and I’m seeing the river for free anyway, since I know a river bet will buy it unless an ace hits. When the 8h comes on the river I think that maybe Cowboy will call a 1/3 pot bet, so I toss out $20. I begin to be sad panda when he mucks, and the dealer begins to rake in the flop.

“Hold on, I’ve gotta show this one.” And I table my 8-high straight flush.

“Floor! Got a high hand on 6!”

Huh? It didn’t have to get called? Cool! What do I get? And the floor walks over with a $50 gift certificate to the 5th floor snazzy restaurants at the IP. Not as cool as the cash you get for one at Harrah’s next door, but they don’t take anything out of the pot for a jackpot drop at the IP, so I thought that was pretty frickin’ sweet.

I continued to play the role of card rack for that session and finished up about $200, then me and E3 went to eat, living Twitch to double his buy-in before finally going to bed.

Oh and Cowboy? He went broke two hands later, wandered off to get more money, and when we came back from food, saw his mom bitching him out at another table for throwing away almost everything he’d won earlier that night.

Viva Las Vegas.


There will be a real trip report coming, I promise. Right now I'm recovering from my redeye flight into the humid South and trying to stop coughing up pieces of desert that have lodged in my lungs over the course of the week. Here are few things that will be forthcoming -

Tales from the TV table

Walking the Strip at 3AM

Tilting blondes at Harrah's and the IP

Aces suck 3 times out of 4

3-5 Spades is Gold, Baby!

So is 5-7 Hearts!

Luxor game sucks ass

Venetian room is sweeeeet

and other nonsense

So glad to meet and hang with everyone I could, hate I missed meeting some of the others, but that's why there's always next time around!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A minute with Mike

I’ll admit to having been a little nervous walking up to Mike Sexton in the Caesar’s Poker Room Saturday afternoon, but my brazen desire for good material outweighed the little bit of starstruck, so I did. I introduced myself and said that I write for Pokerworks, and could I get some time this week for an interview?

He said sure, and gave me his card, which doesn’t have his office number on it, but rather his mobile number, and his personal email address. So we chatted for a few minutes about his schedule for the week, and decided that I should call him around 10AM today to try and set something up. So I did, and he was golfing today, but told me to call him around 6 and we’d see about scheduling something.

So Suzy and I go over to the Rio to gawk a little bit, pick up a bit o’ swag, and I call him a hair after 6PM.

“Where are you now?”

“I’m at the Rio.”

“Why don’t you come up to my room and we’ll do it tonight.”

So we hop on the elevator and go interview the 2006 WSOP Tournament of Champions winner. Off the cuff. No notes. Flying completely without a net, and with no real idea of what to expect.

And it was great. The ten-minute interview I expected went into more than half an hour, with great stories about the original Tournament of Champions and Stu Ungar, and great insight into Mike’s opinions on poker, poker players, and how he came to be the host of the World Poker Tour. He was charming, open, passionate about the charities he supports, optimistic about the future of poker and the ability of poker champions and sites to use their tournament winnings to do some good in the world, and just an all-around damn fine guy. And when we were done, he told me that I did a good interview.

It was a good night.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

I was at the TV table last night for f'n sure

#1s – Falstaff
#2s – Biggestron
#3s – Noted Poker Author DoubleAs
#4s – Blinders
#5s – Iggy (playing YoSoyVeneno’s Stack)
#6s - Smokkee
#7s – Alan (Geek & Proud)
#8s – Civilian
#9s – Shane Nickerson
#10s – Joe Speaker

And I’m up $1 in wheel spin bets.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

WPBT Summer Classic #1

Some quick first impressions and quick hits before I head over to Caeasar’s for the blogger tourney.

  1. God, there are getting to be a lot of blogger chicks. That’s pretty damn cool. As Dawn and I were walking to the IP last night to hit up their fishy $1/2 NL game she remarked on how many there are. Pretty cool, because once a concept/fad/cultural phenomenon crosses the gender barrier, it adds more staying potential, so this influx of women playing the game and writing about it will help keep the poker boom strong.

  2. Felicia (fe-lee-cee-ya, for the record) is a lot funnier in person than I thought she’d be. I expected this blunt, caustic bitch, which she kinda is, but she’s a really funny, blunt, caustic bitch. Felicia “Filter-Free” Highlights from day one include – “I thought when I saw you that you’d lost weight, but you’re fatter than ever.” “You’re a good-looking guy, one of the better-looking guys here, you just look old.” And “Hey, Alan, are you gay? I heard you were gay.” He’s not. I took to turning on my new geek-ass digital voice recorder whenever I was around her just in the hopes of catching some of that shit.

  3. Me and F-Train were completely enthralled by the stripper bachelorette party that was molesting the guy from Thunder from Down Under in the entrance to Excalibur last night. Dawn, for some reason, was not entranced. She has some strange resistance to the hypnotic power of the boobies. Oh yeah, it’s cause she’s got her own.

  4. 2-4 HORSE was much more enjoyable this time around, since I now have a rudimentary understanding of 3 out of 5 games, and actually feel mildly competent at two of them. I still suck at Stud, O8 and Stud/8, but got some good tips from Heather and Ryan on Stud/8.

  5. I really felt a couple of times like I should have tipped Heather instead of the dealer during the Razz portion of the game, since she was running the game and the dealer was just slinging cards. Why offer a mixed game if your dealers can’t deal it? There was nothing really bad, just general lack of understanding. Good thing almost everyone at the table knew what was going on.

  6. Getting aces cracked twice in five hands will induce tilt no matter how hard you try to contain it. Once to a four-flush and I managed to not pay off the big value bet on the river, and once when we got all the money in the middle preflop AA v 10 10, and donkey catches runner-runner straight on the river. No way all my money isn’t getting into the middle at some point in that hand, since it ended up 9-high to make it 10-high straight. Rivering a Q-high straight ten hands later will not only put you within striking distance of even for the session, but it will vindicate your play a little in your head.

Headed off to Caesar’s for the tourney now. Since my tourney game has sucked so much donkey nuts lately, my strategy is going to be a mix of Kill Phil Basic with a lot of small ball style. Essentially I’m willing to see a bunch of cheap flops with the first 1/3 – ½ of my stack, then I’m shifting into a very tight style with two moves – push or fold. We’ll see. Stuck $200 for the trip so far, but don’t think it’s indicative of my NL play. The $75 I paid for HORSE lessons last night was exactly that, paying for lessons.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Give a little bit...

Click on the banner over on the right side of the page, or just follow the link to the cool stuff that Bobby, Jason and their celebrity buddies have wrangled up for the auction to raise money for a little girl who lost her mommy. Nobody should have to grow up parentless and I think it's one of the coolest things I've ever seen that Bob, Jason, Shelly and the gang have done all this work for nothing but the warm fuzzies that come from helping somebody. Not bad for a bunch of degenerate gamblers, huh?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Good weekend

I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to clap at the opening credits of a movie before, but hearing the theme to Superman in a theatre again pretty much made me wanna stand up and yell like the uber-geek that I am. Suzy and I dragged E3 along to see the new Superflick, and it was worth the $9 a head, which is almost never my opinion of movies these days.

The big blue boy scout is all he’s ever been, and Suzy thinks the new one is almost as hot as Tom Welling (Smallville). I was less enamored of Kate Bosworth’s Lois Lane, but how can you go wrong when Kevin Spacey is your villain and Parker Posey is his moll? She’s fantastic in everything, and Spacey’s a creepy little fuck when he wants to be, so that was a great pairing.

All in all, we really enjoyed the movie, I thought it did justice to the mythos and the movies that came before (while successfully ignoring some of the atrocities committed in the later films). But it was a little creepy to see Brandon Rouch’s lips move, and hear Chris Reeve’s voice come out. It was absolutely freaky how much this kid sounds like Reeve, who will always be Superman in my eyes, given my age.

New Superman movie yesterday, and the new Johnny Cash album today – doesn’t get much better for me. This is American V, the album he was working on with Rick Rubin just before he died, and you can hear the years taking their toll on the man in some songs, especially Like the 309, which sounds a lot like a man who knows his time is coming soon. Death has been a present specter in all of the American Recordings Cash albums, but on this one it sounds more like an old friend he’s waiting on the porch for than something he’s fighting against. Somebody give Rick Rubin a medal for bringing Cash back to the forefront of music in his last years, we all almost let that national treasure of songwriting fade away.

Oh yeah, you thought this was a poker blog! Ok, I played a shitload of poker this weekend, putting something like 400 miles on the car just cruising to home games and underground games. It went something like this:

Thursday night – drive to G-Vegas. Sit between G-Rob and The Mark. Regret that position for 5 hours. Go home down a buyin and change (-$125)

Friday night – host a game at my house. Run over the table for an hour, donate everything back by the end of the night. Suzy finishes the night up a buyin (+$50).

Saturday night – learn the hard way that when the chick dealing check-raises your queens, you’re probably fucked. Drop 1.5 buyins in 2 hours. Go home reeling (-$300).

Sunday – drive back to G-Vegas for a tourney at Casa de Mark. Continue my stellar tournament performance, proving the wisdom of my decision not to register for any WSOP events this year (-$55). Gambool like a degenerate in the cash games and rake the biggest single pot of my life when I hit one of 14 outs on the river to beat The Mark’s flopped two pair in a hand with 2 all-ins and an absolutely retarded level of action (+$900).

The hand in question went something like this – we were down to five-handed. I was on the button, Juan (down a pile of cash already but an amazing action junkie) in the SB, Walt (up and down stacks all night) in the BB, The Mark (strong aggressive action junkie, table chip leader) in the straddle and Shep Tiltstein in the CO. Shep call the straddle, I look down at AQ diamonds and pop it to $10. Juan calls, Walt calls, The Mark calls, Shep folds.

Flop Kd Qs 10d giving me middle pair with the nut flush and straight draws. Checked to me and I bet $30. Juan comes over the top all in for another $70. I pause. The Mark comes over the top of that for another $70. I pause a LOT. Then I push my remaining $300 into the pot.

The Mark goes deep into the tank, and I tell him that I’m behind, but still a favorite to win. Interestingly enough, we had talked a couple hours before about how AK sooted is a favorite over QQ after a J-high flop with two of the correct suit. Mark tells me he has K 10, and I tell him he’s technically a dog to my hand, calling out the percentages we’d found on the cardplayer odds calculator earlier (I was actually about 1% more of a favorite than in that particular hand, since I also had straight draws, but that was pretty irrelevant). Mark thinks a little while longer and calls.

Turn is a four of clubs and my nuts curl up somewhere comfy behind my pancreas. I look down and ask for a Queen…or an Ace. And Walt kindly flips over the Ace of clubs for a pot in excess of $700, by far the largest single pot I’ve ever pulled down. I don’t know if I would have been able to make that push if I didn’t already have $100 in profits from the afternoon session in my pocket, and I’m not sure I can make that push at a reasonable hour of the day or night, but at past 1 AM, it felt like the right thing to do.

I did go back to the odds calculator and see that I was indeed a 55/45 favorite in the hand, but I’m not sure how often I’m gonna have the stones to push with it. I know there’s no way I’d have made that move after the turn. Had I just called, then seen the four come up, I would never have had the strength of conviction to stick with it any further. So I’m glad I made the push, and now just need to make sure I don’t let Mark sit to my left when we’re in Vegas this weekend, or he’s gonna push me around like the skinny kid in the schoolyard.

Heh. I just went back and erased “next weekend” to replace it with “this weekend.” I fly in three days, and I had my first Vegas dream tonight. I know that’s kinda sick. And the fact that Nickerson was there teaching me to throw craps was also kinda twisted.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

More Heroes, Please

It was about ten years ago. It was an overflowing county commission meeting filled to the brim woth artists, left-wing radicals, right-wing nutjobs and a few normal people sprinkled through. We were all there to talk, listen, scream, wail, gnash our teeth and beat our breasts over public funding for theatre in Charlotte. We were there because there had been a production of a play about some queens, and some people got pissed that the theatre producing the play got a few pennies of tax money for their operating budget, and those pissed off folks wanted to yank all the county arts funding to punish the pernicious peddlers of smut. You know, theatre people.

In the middle of all the rhetoric, all the accusations and all the hissy fits, a skinny guy in a wheelchair rolled up to a microphone and gave an impassioned plea for reason. He talked about the value of the arts in a society and in a life. I could tell that this guy was having a hard time making this happen, because his body was rebelling against him, but he wouldn't be beaten. He said his peace, he rolled away, and we lost that night's fight.

And he kept talking to people in boardrooms and private homes all over town, and a couple of years later four of the five council members who voted to repeal arts funding were defeated in the next election, and the private donations that came into the arts community in Charlotte doubled the money that was stripped from the budget.

And last year we opened a brand new beautiful Children's Theatre facility named after him, a thank you from a grateful arts community for his fighting on our behalf, when he had his own fight going on.

And today, he lost. Complications from Lou Gehrig's disease killed Joe Martin at age 65. And I sit here at my keyboard, crying a little for the passing of a man I never met face to face, but owe a debt to nonetheless. Betrayed by his body, he never stopped fighting.

Can we have a few more of these?


4:40 pm | Charlotte crusader Joe Martin dies


One of Charlotte's most well-known advocates passed away this morning.

Joseph B. Martin, a retired Bank of America executive, former Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member, and brother of former N.C. governor Jim Martin, died from respiratory problems caused by a pulmonary embolism, family members said. He was 65.

In 1994, Martin was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, as it is commonly known. The illness eventually left him without the ability to walk or talk. But it never lessened his drive for fighting for causes in which he believed. Even after his diagnosis, he worked tirelessly for ALS patients, better schools and race relations.

He introduced "Race Day," challenging Charlotteans to invite a person of a different race to lunch. He helped create the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Education Foundation. He and his brother raised more than $3 million to build the Carolinas Neuromuscular/ALS Center at Carolinas Medical Center.

He wrote two books, one about living with the illness, the other a novel about teenagers growing up in South Carolina in the 1950s.

The Public Library of Charlotte and the Children's Theater of Charlotte named their joint children's complex -- ImaginOn: The Joe and Joan Martin Center -- after Martin and his wife.

Bank of America, in his honor, established the Joe Martin Scholarship Program, which offers financial assistance for college or vocational schools to dependents of associates.

"He was the most universally loved people I knew," said Hugh McColl Jr., former Bank of America CEO, who called Martin one of his most trusted advisers and the "conscience of the company."

My buddy Warbucks is a gambler, pure and simple. He and I have very different reasons that we play poker.

Once again my dear friend Falstaff missed the boat. Playing smarter and at tables where you've done better is NOT the cure for "fear & doubt". Not worrying about losing your bank roll IS the Cure.
Gambling money is (and should always be) entertainment dollars that you can afford to lose and still pay your bills. To me, poker is an absolute blast, win, lose, or draw. Obviously I want to win just like everyone else. It's simply NOT the "be all, end all".

Isn't that what I said? Exercising proper bankroll management and table selection means that you won't ever worry about losing your bankroll. If I don't play above the limits dictated by my bankroll, I don't have to worry about losing it. I pretty much adhere to a 10% rule, which is not exactly the tightest bankroll strategy, but it works for me. I don't sit down at a table with more than 10% of my roll in front of me. I can lose a couple of buy-ins at $200 a clip without being crippled, and I'm a decent enough player to be able to pull the plug on a shitty session if I'm going to go further south than that in one session anyway.

Warbucks looks at his poker money as gambling money, which to him is entertainment money. I look at my poker money as a self-supporting revenue stream, contributing positively to my personal net worth. That's a pretty stark difference, and it highlights the two most common opposing viewpoints of poker players.

If you want to play recreationally and to have fun, go for it. You're more than welcome at my home game just like the dear friends who came over last night, some of whom donated and some of whom took cash away. If you look at the game as recreation, then Warbucks' view is absolutely correct - play with extra money, just like you spend your extra cash going to the movies. Do NOT ever play with money you can't afford to lose.

If you want to play seriously and as a form of revenue, then you might want to consider a little deeper the concept of bankroll management. If you don't ever put more than 10% of your bankroll on the table, you're not going to go broke. If you pick your tables carefully, you'll have a better shot at growing your bankroll to increase the limits at which you play.

There's nothing wrong with either view, I just tend to look at poker a little more seriously than the average recreational player. I still have fun, win or lose. But I have more fun when I win and play well. The odds of me ever becoming a professional poker player are slim to none (and Slim, he left town). But I'm a hell of a lot better player than I was a year ago, and I know that I can continue to improve and move up in limits with more study and analysis (I know Warbucks thinks that's crap). And that's another part of what I enjoy about the game, the ability to improve and learn. And make more money. I likes money.

In other news, if the opportunity ever arises to sit between G-Rob and The Mark in a G-Vegas home game, come down with dysentery. Fast. I felt lucky to get out of that bloodbath only down one buy-in (and a little change). Raises, re-raises, push-monkey moves and a blatant misuse of the "Easy" button made for a hilarious time and a nice little lesson in dodging hyper-aggressive players for me.